Near 500 words: Lawn-othology

Verily I say unto you. It is written in the Holy Writ of Lawn Care.

In the beginning, God created The Lawn. And it wasn’t just any lawn. It was The Lawn. And He separated it from the Non-Lawn. And that was the First Day.

On the Second Day, God created Lawn Care and He sowed The Lawn with seeds. Was it crab grass or St. Augustine grass or Kentucky blue grass? Could it have been Bermuda or Zoysia? Then again it might have been Fine or Tall Fescue. I’m voting for St. Augustine. Nobody knows for sure but we do know that–

On the Third Day, God fertilized that Lawn. And He fertilized with Grade-A cow manure. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been any reason for cows. This was way before the Hindus worshipped the Cow and definitely before those Got Milk commercials.

On the Fourth Day, God watered The Lawn. With rain, no less. In fact, it rained and rained so much and so hard that Noah’s flood was a stream of a flood compared to the Fourth Day’s rain.

On the Fifth Day, God kicked back to admire His work. But there is no rest for the weary. He gandered across that First Lawn and caught sight of a wee itty bitty weed goofing up His work of perfection. So God had a Himself a big breakfast and went off and did some first class weeding.

On the Sixth Day, God realized that The Lawn had gotten out of hand. God being God, He was a First Class Problem Solver. He made Himself a Man to keep up with all the seeding and fertilizing and watering and weeding.

So on the Seventh Day, God looked down from His Throne and saw that His Work was done and He could rest. For there was Man, and there was a lawn that needed mowing.

And to make sure that things were A-okay, it is also written in the Holy Writ, God’s Ten Tips For A Happy Lawn:
Thou shalt mow thy lawn.
Thou shalt mow thy lawn often. So thy neighbors won’t complain.
Thou shalt keep up with the Joneses and cut thy lawn just right.
Thou shalt not envy thy neighbor’s lawn mower.
Thou shalt not let thy neighbor’s dog poop, or thine for that matter, on thy lawn.
Thou shalt not let the weeds choke thy grass.
Thou shalt win blue ribbons for the best lawn in thy town.
Thou shalt not curse thy lawn.
Thou shalt remember that thy lawn has feelings.
So thou shalt give thy lawn its own Facebook page.
Amen.

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Near 500 words: Benjamin Franklin Takes On Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was a funny guy. If you’ve read Gulliver’s Travels, you know just how funny he is. Who else would have given us names we can’t pronounce? He could have made it much simpler to call a spade a spade. Or, in his case, a horse. Like Mr. Ed used to sing, “A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.” Instead he gave us Houyhnhnms.

And that wasn’t the only one that was utterly unpronounceable. There’s Brobdingnag,  Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan. If there’s ever been a word that’s harder to pronounce than Japan, I haven’t found it. And why use Lilliputian when munchkin is a perfectly fine word for short people?

After he published his Gulliver, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. When you’re a satirist, you end up trying to top yourself. Like Mark Twain couldn’t settle for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He had to go and write Pudd’nhead Wilson. Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal.”

You might say the word “modest” was a tongue-in-cheeker. Most of the Irish of his day lived in poverty and suffered from hunger. So Swift suggested the English ought to cook the Irish children and serve them as fricassee or ragout. The English may have found it funny but I don’t think the Irish did. I’m sure the Americans didn’t. For an obvious reason explained below.

Benny Franklin knew satire when he read it. His Poor Richard’s Almanac left Americans laughing all the way to Bunker Hill and back. When Benny read A Modest Proposal, he was livid. Instead of telling Swift to go fly a kite, he sent a letter.

That letter was recently discovered by archaeologists under the toilet of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Swift was the Dean of the Cathedral. For those of you who don’t know what a Dean is, he’s a head guy at an Anglican (Episcopalian) Cathedral.

Experts consider that Swift may have run out of toilet paper and Franklin’s letter was the closest thing at hand. Fortunately, for us, the letter fell through the cracks and left Swift without a thing to wipe his bottom with.

So here’s Benny Franklin’s letter:

“My dear Johnny:

I recently read A Modest Proposal. Needless to say, I was not happy with the text. Not happy at all.

This scheme of yours is totally immodest. What an unsettling proposition. Cooking Irish children in a fricassee or a ragout. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Then blame the suggestion on an American. And in London, of all places.

I ask you what American on God’s green earth would know what a fricassee or a ragout is. I don’t even know what a fricassee or a ragout is. And I’ve been to Boston and New York City and Philadelphia.

No, it sounds like a French suggestion to me. What with all their fancy eating. Any people who will eat snails will eat just about anything. Including the Irish.

Besides we Americans don’t have the time to go fricassee-ing and ragout-ing about. We’re way too busy with witches to hang, tea parties to organize, independence to declare, constitutions to write, cherry trees to chop down, apple trees to plant, slaves to free, destinies to manifest. And we’re still trying to finish off the leftovers from that first Thanksgiving dinner.

So please, pretty please with sugar and cream on it, don’t blame an American. If we’re going anywhere, it won’t be to London. We’ll be going west, thanks to Horace Greeley.

Sincerely,
Benny Franklin, Esq.”

Near 500 words: Independence

Happy Birthday, USA. It’s Independence Day. 

Well, we got to see Independence Hall in Philadelphia on our vacay. Gollee, it was so nice. Just to think that’s where Betty Ross made that flag. And it was a real pretty flag too. On top of that, it was where George Washington freed them slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation. Man, that’s a mouthful. And he did it all at the same time he chopped down that cherry tree. I looked for its stump but it wasn’t there.

Before we went, we studied all about independence in school. I looked up the word. I read about it. Its definition, you know. I told my mama that I could do anything I wanted. Independence means freedom from control or the influence of another or others.

Darn if she didn’t slap my face. Said, “Boy, it also means you gotta be able to support yourself. Till you can do that, you gotta do what I say. And I say get in there and do the dishes.”

‘Course I did the dishes. I may be independent but I sure gotta do what my mama says. ‘Cause I don’t want a whooping.

Then I went and translated it into German and Dutch and Greek. Not whooping. Independence. Used that there Google translate. Got some really nice words too. Don’t know what they mean but they were nice. Hard to pronounce though. And that Greek was all squiggly words. Looked like they’s moving and all. Weirdest thing.

Anyway I copied that Greek word. Even drew a picture of what it looked like. It looked like that time I was at the beach and there’s Uncle Ernie with all his kids. They’s all standing in a row for that picture we took of them. Nice. Really nice.

Hope y’all know that I can’t wait till I grow up. Then I can be independent and eat all the ice cream I want. And I don’t have to eat my spinach. That’s for sure.

A Parody

A long time ago in a neighborhood nearly nearby…

For the past three hours, Juke has been playing the online game, Fix Up Your Robot. Then he realizes that he needs to clean the kitchen and wash the dishes before his mother, Mater Vader, comes home. She has plans for Pater Vader’s Surprise Birthday Party.

Juke walks into the kitchen, takes one look at the dishes stacked in the sink, and wants to throw-up. That is Chewy-ish for vomit. How is he going to get all this mess cleaned up before the Mater drives up in the driveway in her Ford Star Cruiser? Then the Voice of his Master, Hoagie Roll, whispers in his ear, “Use the Farce, Juke. Use the Farce.”

“Oh, great and wonderful Hoagie, how do I do that?”

“Think funny thoughts. Think funny thoughts.”

Before he can funny his thoughts, the Dark Clown sneaks into the kitchen. He takes one look at the mess, then says to Juke in his best James Earl Jones, “Come over to the Clown Side, Juke. You too can be a Clown.”

“How do I do that?”

“Think serious thoughts.”

“Think funny thoughts, Juke. You must not go over to the Clown Side.”

Out of nowhere, a little green gremlinish puppet springs into the air. His little green hands are formed into a fist. They hit the Dark Clown’s red nose. They hit it hard. The Dark Clown rushes out the back door, knowing he has been defeated by none other than Little Green Puppet, Farce Master.

On his way out, he calls to Juke, “Come over to the Clown Side.”

“Now,” Master Hoagie commands, “think funny thoughts and use the Farce, Juke. Use the Farce.”

Suddenly the Three Stooges meet the Marx Brothers and their sidekick, Lucille Ball, in Juke’s brain. Then he’s on the floor, laughing hysterically. The dishes start washing themselves, the kitchen mop mops the floor. Before you can say, “Abracadabra”, the kitchen is spotless. With a final Jack Benny / George Burns repartee, Juke sees that the dining room table has a new cloth on it.

Just as Juke finishes his last guffaw, he hears the roar of his mother’s Star Cruiser pull up into the driveway. The Little Green Puppet is out the door. And Master Hoagie says in his And-to-all-a-good-night Voice, “May the Farce be with you.” Then he too is gone.

My Black Thumb

 With Spring coming on, I thought this would be the perfect piece to welcome her.

In the long, long time ago, I thought it would be nice to grow some flowers. So I chucked down to the local nursery and asked what would be a good flower to plant. I was overwhelmed with suggestions from that crew. It was like going out to dinner with a bunch of friends. Eight to be exact and they’re all saying, “You gotta try this. And this. And this.”

I mean the staff at the nursery went on and on about annuals and perennials. They suggested hibiscus, azaleas, roses, zinneas, periwinkles, begonias, rain lilies, magnolias, camelias and  all the kinds of flowers. They just knew they’d spiff up my lawn.

Little did they know that my lawn eats cats and dogs for breakfast. I have seen the neighborhood cat running forty miles an hour just to get away from the darn thing. But I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I didn’t share anything about the villain.

I didn’t plan to plant the flowers anywhere near the lawn. I bought several earth boxes and took some of the flowers with interesting sounding names. Begonia sounded Irish, so I took the potential begonia along with a periwinkle and azaleas. The staff threw in an hibiscus for free and I was a happy camper.

The nursery gave me instructions on how to plant, nurse and grow these little cuties into big adult flowers. The instructions came in a roll as long as a roll of toilet paper. I also bought some accessories like a little shovel to dig a hole in the dirt.

It cost me a big chunk of change but it was worth it. I mean, when I left that place, I was a ready teddy. And I was feeling good about myself. I was ready to beat that global warming single-handed and with one hand tied behind my back.

I got home and set the earth box out on my porch. I put it in a spot my lawn couldn’t see just in case. I got out my tiny shovel and dug holes in the dirt and planted my flowers. I watered them nice-like. Then I went back in my house, got myself a beer and settled into my nice comfy chair. You wouldn’t believe the smile I had on my face. I had done a good day’s work and I couldn’t have been happier.

Well, over the next few weeks, I watered them flowers just like the instructions in Chapter 32 of my roll said. I did not feed them the cheap plant food. I gave them the Good Stuff. Day after day, I did this for about two weeks.

Then one night I woke up to the weirdest sounds. It sounded like the noise was coming from the earth box. I ran out to the flowers and all of them were choking. They were having trouble breathing. Several of them had gone to the Big Flower Box in the Sky. One of the periwinkles choked out, “Water, water, water.”

I ran and filled the watering can. I got to the box. The periwinkle said, “Not tap water. Bottled wa–” and he died. It was the end of my flower-planting career. I asked my neighbor what had happened. He said, “So you thought you had a Green Thumb. Well, guess what. You and I both have black thumbs. The best thing you can do is go down to that nursery. Start dating the first single woman you meet there. Then marry her. That way you’ll have a Green Thumb in the family.”

And that’s exactly what I did. She has a way with flowers. And my lawn loves her too. Her name is Petunia Tree.